Bees are not the only ones buzzing around this time of year. Colorado State football began its annual fall camp Monday afternoon, and the stakes are high, especially for the offense.
An offense which produced a 3,600-yard passer and a 1,700-yard rusher in a single season has big shoes to fill. Along with the losses of key players to graduation and the NFL, four of the five starting offensive linemen graduated and their leading rushers found homes elsewhere.
Nevertheless, returning slot receiver Charles Lovett is confident that his team has a little something up their sleeves.
“We lost some great players, playing in the NFL right now, but this group coming up – you guys are going to have a lot of surprises,” Lovett said. “This is the group of players we have to ride with. We aren’t going out and getting any new players so this is the group that we have to work with and make better than last year.”
Newly acquired tailback Dee Hart is likely to be an impact player, but that won’t come as much of a surprise. Hart was recruited out of high school by Auburn, Michigan and Alabama before committing to the Tide in 2011.
After a series of unfortunate injuries sidelined him for his short career in Tuscaloosa, Hart took his talent to the Front Range.
“Anytime you get somebody from Alabama, you’re pretty happy about that,” senior quarterback Garrett Grayson said. “He’s got a great first step and he’s very explosive.”
Head coach Jim McElwain has emphasized explosiveness in the backfield as well as on special teams. But despite Hart’s pedigree, Hart will have plenty of competition from a host of players in the Rams’ backfield.
Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin has been impressed by junior transfer Treyous Jarrells, praising his “outstanding quickness” and his ability to finish strong, and freshman Deron Thompson who has “flashes of great speed.”
That leaves questions about converted safety Jasen Oden, who ended spring practice as CSU’s No. 1 running back. Baldwin says that while Oden offers a helpful bigger presence in the backfield, he will have to continue to earn playing time.
“What’s happened to Jasen, is he became the guy in spring, but he’s still learning the position,” Baldwin says. “Every opportunity he gets has to be his best opportunity because someone is knocking on the door – and that’s how you get better.”
Outside expectations of returning to a bowl game are nothing compared to the expectations they have placed upon themselves. McElwain has already dubbed this year “The Climb” and will not allow players or coaches to be complacent with their small amount of success.Collegian Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @c_rasta5.